TWO floods in nine months havehighlighted how vulnerable we are to road closures, especially on those roads that have low-lying bridges.
Residents whose access is subject to flooding are calling on local and state
SOS: Residents at Goorangoola and Dawsons Hill were cut off from direct access to Singleton last week due to flooding at Double Crossing, Greenlands.
governments to ensure, when it comes time to replace those low-lying bridges, the funds are made available to build bridges that are flood free.
Wollombi Road was cut at Paynes Crossing last week due to flooding from Wollombi Brook and residents at Goorangoola and Dawsons Hill were cut off from Singleton due to flooding at Double Crossing, Greenlands.
Making matters worse for the 35families affected at Goorangoola was the fact work had started last year on the upgrade to Double Crossing and thetemporary crossing was damaged in the flood.
Broke resident Barry McTaggart said the government may argue they can’t stop roads flooding, but we have to startsomewhere in our upgrades.
“So, why not fund the replacement of all the low-lying bridges,” he said.
“Then you are ensuring better access and better safety for our communities.”
Mr McTaggart cannot see the sense in spending money on upgrading low-lying bridges as it would be better spent on building high-level replacement bridges that guarantee access.
Stop-gap measure: Double Crossing at Goorangoola Creek.
Locally, we have seen the difference Bourkes Crossing has made on Webbers Creek, Glendon Lane.
The new $2 million bridge was opened in October 2013.
This bridge replaced a low-levelcrossing and, although it closed during the 2015 April “super storm”, it remained opened last week.
If it had closed, access between Singleton and Glendon Brook would have been difficult due to the closure of the bridge on Gresford Road.
That bridge was damaged in theApril storm last year and is now not expected to be repaired and open until August.
Mr McTaggart’s main concernis the fact Cessnock Council has decided tospend $560,500 on upgrading Williams Bridge on Paynes Crossing Road, Wollombi.
This bridge, 27km south of Broke, floods three-to-four times a year.
And, the road is heavily-used by mine workers and tourists accessing our area, so why not replace the crossing with a high-level bridge, he said.
Another low level crossing on the road (about 17km from Broke) in the Singleton Council LGA (local government area) only floods once a year but it to should be replaced in the future to ensure better access, he said.
In response, a Cessnock Council spokesperson said the existing timber bridge was being replaced with a reinforced concrete bridge at the same level.
“The decision not to elevate the bridge was taken afterconsideration of a number of factors but most importantly available funds to undertake the project,” they said.
“Other factors included the volume of traffic that travels along Paynes Crossing Road, the condition and classification of Paynes Crossing Road and the flood levels in the subject location, including the flood debris zone.
“Based on the above criteria, and in particular the available funding, an initial decision was made to retain the bridge at its current height and undertake repair works only.”
It’s a similar story for Double Crossing on Goorangoola Creek where local resident Cheryl Marshall says the current work on the upgrade was simply a stop-gap measure.
“We are totally unsatisfied with the planned upgraded crossing,” she told The Argus.
“What we needed was a high-level bridge and what we are getting is a slight lift in a causeway, which will still be subject to flooding and worse still act as a major barrier to flood debris.
“Debris will accumulate and probably block the crossing – this road provides access to 35 homes and with moresubdivisions that number will only grow, so we need reliable access to town.”
Double Crossing upgrade is being untaken by Diona and the project is being funded by a $724,000 subsidised low interest loan from the NSW Government’s Local Infrastructure Renewal Scheme and $300,000 from the Roads to Recoveryprogram.
“Initial communityconsultation on the upgrade to Double Crossing on Goorangoola Road, which included a community meeting at Mt Pleasant School, took place in 2014,” Singleton Council director of community and infrastructure services group Gary Thomson said.
“All options were considered in terms of the technical and budget constraints and the preferred option from that meeting was progressed to the planning stage.
“Further public consultation took place in early 2015 by means of a letter that was sent to all residents of Goorangoola Road along with additional information being placed on council’s website.
“Residents were notified of the start of works by letter which was sent to numbers 615 to 1255 Goorangoola Road by Diona, thecontractors who are carrying out the works on behalf of council, on October 7, 2015.
“Notification of the works was also posted on council’s website and social media pages.
“Notification of the closure during the recent severe weather was put on council’s website and social media pages as were notices of all other road closures in the Singleton LGA.
“It is not usual practice to notify residents via letter of road closures caused by unplanned natural events such as the recent rain event.
“It should be noted thatduring flood events Double Crossing was oftenimpassable due to floodwaters prior to the causeway upgrade works starting.
“The design of the newsingle lane raised causeway raises the pavement level about 1.5m above the previous causeway height, which will allow a significant rise in water level before overtopping of the causeway occurs which will result in significantly improved access for residents during flood events.
“The new crossing has been designed to be able to handle large scale flood events and the land layout and hydrology of the area were fully-considered as part of the detailed design.”